Sure, maybe a little spontaneity is in order to spice things up a bit—but building your spice cabinet can add a little spunk to your immunity, kick up your body’s anti-inflammatory response, and perk up your metabolism, along with adding a lovely punch of flavor to any dish! If you're looking to add a little zest to your life—start with your plate. Dried herbs and spices are chock-full of healthy compounds that bring excitement to your palate and can be utilized for better health, too. Basically, if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you have a well-stocked arsenal for better health.
Spices may consist of the bark, root, stem, seed, or flower of a plant, which are typically dried, and carry strong flavors and aromas. They can be added to a dish throughout the cooking process to further develop their flavors into whatever you are cooking. Many spices are high in vitamin and mineral content, are great sources of antioxidants and phytonutrients, boast antimicrobial properties, help to reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and even improve digestion. Using spices is a great way to supercharge your diet, add more complex flavors, and reduce the need for extra salt and sugar. Here are just a few of our favorite spices to have on hand along with some of their health benefits:
Chili Peppers: Fresh, dried, or powdered, chilies are guaranteed to add a little kick to any meal. With anti-inflammatory properties and immune-boosting properties as well, chili peppers offer the component capsaicin, which has been shown to reduce and inhibit “Chemical P,” the compound responsible for transmitting pain messages to the brain. This has been found helpful for joint pain, migraines, and neuropathy. The vibrant red color of chile peppers means it is rich in beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A), which also helps lower the risk of age-related diseases such as stroke, macular degeneration, and coronary artery disease. Along with Vitamin C, your immune system gains a boost to fight off illness.
*A little secret - I keep a small container of red chili flakes in my purse so I can add some spicy pizazz to whatever I eat, even if I’m on the go.*
Turmeric: A true “super spice” with a rich, earthy, and bitter profile, the golden-hued turmeric is commonly added to many meals such as curries, stews, and even smoothies! Its most active compound, curcumin, is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin can also increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, stimulating the activity of other antioxidants while fighting off free radicals. This can be highly beneficial for both brain and heart health. Curcumin only makes up about 3% of turmeric by weight and isn’t highly bioavailable, but you can increase its bioavailability by around 2000% by consuming it along with black pepper.
Black Pepper: More than likely, you have some black pepper on hand. Piperine, the component in black pepper that makes curcumin more bioavailable, enhances the bioavailability of other important nutrients as well. It can also aid in digestion by boosting the activity of digestive enzymes.
Ginger: As most of us know, ginger is a go-to for an upset stomach and nausea. Spicy, peppery, yet sweet, ginger goes great with soups, marinades, dressings, desserts, and teas. Ginger has a calming effect on the lining of the digestive system. It also boasts anti-microbial properties which can help ward off infections. Loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds, ginger offers powerful benefits to the body and brain by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Cardamom: Often found in pumpkin spice mixes, cardamom is a sweet, pungent spice that can fight inflammation, ease an upset stomach, and is high in magnesium and zinc.
Some other healthy spices you may consider using are cumin, mustard powder, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, curry, and last but not least, garlic (just to name a few!). Think of what flavor combinations would elevate your dish—experimentation is key!
Spices don’t just contribute to the flavor of food, they contribute nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants as well. With properties that fight inflammation, free radical damage, and oxidative stress—you and your taste buds will be doing a proverbial happy dance!
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Integrative medicine solutions including acupuncture and East Asian Medicine have received much attention as successful therapies in their treatment providing pain relief, regulating the immune system, managing symptoms, and improving overall quality of life. In addition, acupuncture increases the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy for women with autoimmune conditions.
Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. There are more than 100 serious chronic illnesses in this category including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison's disease, pernicious anemia, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, and Guillain–Barré syndrome.
The exact mechanisms causing these changes are not entirely understood, but bacteria, viruses, toxins, and some drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune process in someone who already has a genetic (inherited) predisposition to develop such a disorder. It is theorized that the inflammation initiated by these agents, toxic or infectious, somehow provokes in the body a "sensitization" (autoimmune reaction) in the involved tissues.
As the disease develops, vague symptoms start to appear, such as joint and muscle pain, general muscle weakness, possible rashes or low-grade fever, trouble concentrating, or weight loss. The following symptoms may indicate something wrong: numbness and tingling in hands and feet, dry eyes, hair loss, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or repeated miscarriages can also be caused by an autoimmune response.
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), more than 24 million people in the US have autoimmune diseases and another 8 million have autoimmune markers without a clear disease diagnosis. Of these, more than 80% are women. Each disease appears uncommon on an individual basis but, as a group, the disorders make up the fourth-largest cause of disability among women.
How Acupuncture Treats Autoimmune Disorders
According to East Asian Medicine theory, autoimmune disorders occur when there is an imbalance within the body systems related to immune functions. Imbalances can come from an excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of Qi through the body. While these explanations sound strange, when the model is applied to the body, the treatments are very effective. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance; treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.
Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, organ function, and parts of the brain. These responses help the body rebalance. As a result things like blood pressure, body temperature, and the immune system return to a more normal and healthy state.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine provide safe and effective options for the management of autoimmune conditions and improving quality of life. Please contact our office with any questions.
There are so many aspects of our health that can spiral out of control when we have an unhealthy gut. Over the past couple of decades, studies have linked the gut microbiome to nearly every biological function carried out in the human body. An unhealthy gut can affect our mood, quality of sleep, mental health, immune system, skin, hormone levels, and absorption of nutrients.
Although there are many fad diets and designer supplements geared towards improving gut health, as well as conflicting advice abound on the internet, there are quite a few ways to naturally improve your gut microbiome that can easily be incorporated into your every day routine:
Sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives can contribute to unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
Making sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day benefits the mucosal lining of the intestines and also helps to promote the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
Visit the farmer’s market and take a hard pass on gut damaging pesticides (or better yet, get your own garden growing!). Beneficial microbes from the soil they are grown in is an added bonus. For those of you who are local, check out Hardin County Farmers Market - Farmers Market, Vegetables. Opening day this year is Apr 2, 2022.
Often the best way to get to the root of a problem is to be backed with information. Vibrant Wellness, for instance, provides a thorough and highly accurate analysis of your gut microbiome and includes dietary and supplement recommendations based on your own specific needs. For more information, visit Gut Zoomer – Vibrant Wellness (vibrant-wellness.com). These tests are available through Raja Wellness.
Bone broth has a wide array of health benefits for the body, especially the gut. It contains minerals and nutrients in a highly available form that is easily absorbed by the body which are building blocks for the cells of the gut lining, and also helps to reduce inflammation of the gut. Check out our Spring Chicken Bone Broth recipe here!
Fermented foods provide probiotics that are beneficial to digestive health and add to the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve sleep quality which also affects gut health in their own capacities. Exercise has also been shown to positively impact gut microbial composition. If you need a little assistance and are looking for a low-impact and friendly routine, consider joining one of our yoga classes with Nikki at Raja Wellness!
Acupuncture releases endorphins that trigger the body’s unique healing capabilities. Not only can acupuncture help reduce inflammation, stimulate the central nervous system, and reduce pain and stress—it also has a positive effect on the functioning of your organs and can help to restore balance to the gut.
Aside from gut health affecting how you feel overall, it affects how your body functions as well. Upgrade your microbiome by incorporating these tips into your daily routine and notice a positive difference in your overall well-being. For more assistance, book an appointment at Raja Wellness by exploring www.rajawellness.com, emailing us at email@example.com, or call our office at 270-506-3853.